El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel Takes A Major Hit, 24 Members Arrested In Border U.S.-Mexico Raid

Joaquin Guzman, the Mexican drug lord better known as El Chapo, was re-arrested on January 8 after a prison escape. Sean Penn interviewed El Chapo, based on the then fugitive’s connection with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo. A more recent development is 24 members of El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel being arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border during a raid on Friday.

The Mexican Operation Diablo Express sting lasted throughout Friday, as several law enforcement agencies descended upon the small town of Lukeville, Arizona. The Lukeville Port of Entry crosses into Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico, and law enforcement officials worked in both cities.

A department of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Homeland Security Investigations, assisted Mexican authorities per spokesperson Gillian M. Christensen. The FBI, DEA, Customs and Border Protection and Arizona law enforcement agencies also helped. Christen explained the intent of the sting, saying “high-level” cartel members were targeted, per CNN News.

“The operation targets criminal elements and organizations operating in and around Sonoyta, Mexico. Due to the sensitive nature, this operation was conducted with utmost secrecy to maintain the element of surprise and to ensure the safety of the Mexican law enforcement officers executing it.”

Christien also said the operation netted confiscation of “assault-type weapons,” and hundreds of pounds of drugs. The names of those arrested have not been released, but they are now in the custody of the Mexican government, but the U.S. will seek extradition, added CNN.

“The targeted Sinaloa cell has been responsible for the importation of millions of pounds of illegal drugs, including marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, into the United States from Mexico.”

The cartel sting is more fall out from Rolling Stone article that was published after El Chapo was arrested. The exclusive interview was arranged by del Castillo who claims that she thought the meeting was solely for the purpose of discussing plans to make a movie about the drug kingpin’s life.

The actress said she was blindsided and had no idea that Penn would be gathering information for a Rolling Stone, and Penn hijacked the meeting when he sat down to speak with El Chapo. Before the meeting, Penn had allegedly approached Rolling Stone in secret to acquire a letter detailing the assignment. The letter would protect him and two film maker colleagues from legal ramifications by stating they were acting as journalists. Del Castillo was not afforded the same protection, per the Daily News.

The Inquisitr previously reported that del Castillo served as a mediator between Penn and El Chapo. He was infatuated with the La Reina del Sur actress who had once played a drug lord in a Mexican telanova. She used his trust to leverage the meeting with Penn. Some believe a line was crossed by meeting with a fugitive, and Mexican officials have demanded a meeting with del Castillo.

Mexican officials said the meeting between Penn and El Chapo led to his arrest. But in an interview with Charlie Rose, Penn said this wasn’t true, as the interview had taken place on October 2, and the capture didn’t take place until January 8. Rolling Stone published the article the following day.

Penn has also said the fact that he and his colleagues angered the Mexican government, because they were able to locate the elusive drug lord first. The Mystic River actor added that the Mexican government’s statements have potentially placed his life in danger. Some believe the same is true of del Castillo.

[Photo by Christian Palma/AP]